M.A: Artisanal Objects Made with Care in Oaxaca

These one-of-a-kind wool rugs and clay pieces are inspired by Mexico’s streets, markets, and mythology.

16 Jul 2019

M.A is a project created by the artist Mely Ávila, whose work has done nothing but brighten interiors across Mexico City. Each object dreamed and crafted is the result of a tedious process, in which its protagonist is time: our most invaluable resource. M.A.’s pieces are created methodically, calmly, and with care. The results are one-of-a-kind rugs and clay objects.

rug sketch ma

clay pieces ma

M.A was founded in January 2018, and although it bears the initials of Mely—the artist—it is in fact a collective project and not an easy feat. In order to create a clay pot, everything starts in the Zapotec Mountains, where Mely and a number of Oaxacan families go to collect mud. This mud is specially prepared for a week, and once formed into its shape, it must be left to dry for an entire month. Once dry, they are burned in a bonfire, almost as if it were a ritual. Afterward, the pieces are transported with the same care with which they were made. Everything ends (and begins) at M.A.’s atelier in San Rafael, Oaxaca.

oaxaca ma

As for the rugs, which can be used on the floor or on the wall, the designs are inspired by not only by mythological symbols and indigenous cosmovisions but also in the country’s markets, streets, and happy architectural mishaps: the superpositions of textures, colors, or objects that derive from Mexican ingenuity and improvisation.

rug design ma

mely ma

Although the designs start with Mely, due to the collaborative nature of the project, it is impossible that the different protagonists do not all get involved some way or another in the design, from the tiny mistakes to the personal touches. It took Mely a year to form her team because not just any artisan likes the idea of challenging the loom. Because of the composition of the loom, designing the curvy and irregular shapes is both rare and difficult.

clay mug ma

faces ma

Crafts implicate very difficult and time-consuming processes, and often their market value does not do them justice. Although there are more and more projects like M.A. (fair pay and inclusion of artisans), there is still work to be done. These pieces could cost even more, and Mely hopes to contribute to that shift in price. At M.A, you can find objects starting at one thousand pesos ($50 USD). Everything depends on the size (large does not always mean more expensive), the vegetal colors, and the design. Geometric shapes are more affordable, while thinner or circular lines involve more work and are therefore more expensive.

But Mely adapts to you. If visiting her brightly colored workshop, she will ask you what you like and what you are looking for. Then with her team, she will craft a beautiful piece, made to measure; a rug that represents the labor of time. You will have a one-of-a-kind piece.

Also, once a month there are sales, with pieces at half price, so that very elaborate pieces can be more affordable.

Follow M.A on Instagram to stay informed on Mely’s current and upcoming projects.
Photos: Ángela Suárez (@suarezangela)

Adapted and translated by Evan Upchurch


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